There Is Nowhere Morning Does Not Go

Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have. (Lemony Snicket)

Turns out waking up early is even better for me than I originally thought. This morning was an adventure I’ll never forget. So I embarked for my usual 5.30am walk only to be stopped halfway by an ojichan (old citizen). He asked where I was from, what I was doing here etc and long story short, he took me to his garden where he showed me his eggplants, watermelons, broccoli, figs, persimmons and other fruits and vegetables before ripping out a big cabbage head for me to take home. Next, he introduced me to his wife who also gifted me fresh produce: capsicum, parsley and cucumber. Since it was still early by the time I got home, I whipped up a quick batch of blueberry muffins to return to the old couple as a thank you before heading to work. When I got there…well, I’m sure you can imagine their smiles and feel their warmth.
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Vegetable Lasagna

250g wholemeal lasagna sheets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 capsicum (any colour)
1 punnet of white button mushrooms
2 small eggplants
handful of fresh spinach
small broccoli head
(all veggies chopped medium to small)
400g can all-natural diced tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
750g smooth ricotta cheese
3 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Vegetable sauce:
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add capsicum, mushroom, eggplant, spinach and broccoli, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste, cook for 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

Mix ricotta, eggs and basil, season with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C

Pour 1/2 cup of vegetables sauce into a lightly greased baking dish then alternate layers of lasagna, vegetable sauce and ricotta, ending with ricotta layer (allow for 4 layers).

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes (25 if using white lasagna sheets).

Let stand for  5 minutes before serving.

TIP: the trick to delicious lasagna is AMPLE SAUCE and that the lasagna sheets, are completely covered with/in it. So for extra yum-factor, make sure your lasagna retains a high level of moisture.

eggplant pizzettes

I’mma be honest, living so far from home isn’t easy but these eggplant pizzas are worth it. Just kidding! What I’m trying to say is, I’m finding love in so many different forms and receiving it in an abundance of unexpected ways. Today, love took the form of a big bag of organic vegetables from my considerate colleague. I received eggplants, tomatoes, capsicums and cucumbers! Eating healthy and seasonal is so easy here! I am truly blessed. Ideally for this dish, bigger eggplants are better (more room for toppings, you see) but if you only have mini eggplants, like I did then you’ll just have to wing it!
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1 or 2 big eggplants (sliced 1 inch thick)
salt (just enough)
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozarella (use vegan variety if vegan lol)
fave pizza toppings (I used cherry tomatoes, white onion, corn and green capsicum)

Preheat oven to 180C

Place eggplants on a lined tray and season generously with salt – this helps draw out the excess water

Prepare toppings (chop, slice etc)

By now, the water from the eggplants should  have surfaced so using a paper towel pat the eggplants dry – this will also get rid of the excess salt.

Bake eggplants for about 10 minutes (we dont want them getting mushy so watch them)

When ready, remove from oven and top with remaining ingredients:
sauce, cheese, toppings, cheese again is usually a good order

Bake for a further 10-15 min or until golden!